Do Ghosts Exist?

According to the overwhelming research carried out by the various scientific fraternities in the world, there isn’t sufficient evidence to back that ghosts exist.

According to Wikipedia, most of the stories about ghosts stems from folklore. Their existence is impossible to falsify, and ghost hunting has been classified as pseudoscience. The belief in the existence of an afterlife, as well as manifestations of the spirits of the dead, is widespread, dating back to animism or ancestor worship in pre-literate cultures.

Certain religious practices—funeral rites, exorcisms, and some practices of spiritualism and ritual magic—are specifically designed to rest the spirits of the dead. Ghosts are generally described as solitary, human-like essences, though stories of ghostly armies and the ghosts of animals rather than humans have also been recounted. You can read the rest of the Wiki on this.

But my objective of writing this article is to share with you the reader about a truth I discovered regarding ghosts, spirits and demons and if they truly exist. I will be referring to a few verses from Gurbani as my basis of the fact-find that has led me to believe that people seem to believe in ghosts because of the stories they’ve been told since young and more so, the movies they’ve seen. No wonder, the ghost concept seems to be real for many.

In an article I recently read, titled “How the God you worship influences the ghost you see”, the writer made an apt point by stating…

Historians who study and catalogue ghostly encounters across time will tell you that ghosts come in a range of shapes and forms. Some haunt individuals, appearing in dreams or popping up at unexpected times. Others haunt a specific location and are prepared to spook any passersby. Some are the spitting images of what were once real humans. And then there are the noisy and troublesome poltergeists, which appear as uncontrollable supernatural forces instead of people.

What might explain such discrepancies? And are some people more likely to see ghosts than others?

I believe our brains are ‘hardwired’ to see ghosts and it turns out that our religious background too has a role to play.

Religion: A vehicle to expound the ghost phenomena

Apparently, if one were to closely examine the purpose of religions, there is a strong argument pointing out that religions were created as a “terror management device”, a handy way to remove the uncertainty surrounding one of most feared things of all : death.

What happens to us after we die? This is probably one of the biggest question or doubt which has gone unanswered till date. But if you look at most of the religious people in the world, it seems these people do not seem to fear death or what comes after death.

The same writer explains…

Protestants, Catholics and Muslims all believe in a day of resurrection and judgment, in which our souls are directed to heaven (“Jannah” in the case of Muslims) or hell, based upon our good deeds (or misdeeds) during our time spent on Earth. Catholics also believe in a halfway house called purgatory, in which people who aren’t quite worthy of heaven but are too good for hell can pay their dues before getting a ticket to paradise.

Buddhists and Hindus believe in a cycle of death and reincarnation that can eventually result in a permanent spiritual state, provided you play your cards right over each successive lifetime. Even the Jewish faith, which doesn’t really focus on the afterlife, assumes that an afterlife does exist.

By following a clear set of rules, worshipers can assert control: They know what they have to do to make good things, rather than bad things, happen to them.

Sikhism and ghosts.

So what does Sikhism say about ghosts? Did Guru Nanak and the 9 Gurus after him believe in ghosts or demons?

To answer this question, lets examine a shabad by Guru Arjan Dev Ji . This is a pretty common shabad recited and sang by our clergy (gianis, kirtanis and parcharaks) in gurdwaras. But I feel they (the clergies) have not grasped the concept of ghosts accurately, let alone shared the essence of the shabad correctly.

The other source of misconception about ghosts has to do with the wrong translations found in teekas (translations) and gurbani apps.

ਮੈ ਮਨਿ ਤੇਰੀ ਟੇਕ ਮੇਰੇ ਪਿਆਰੇ ਮੈ ਮਨਿ ਤੇਰੀ ਟੇਕ ॥
ਅਵਰ ਸਿਆਣਪਾ ਬਿਰਥੀਆ ਪਿਆਰੇ ਰਾਖਨ ਕਉ ਤੁਮ ਏਕ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥

ਊਚ ਅਪਾਰ ਬੇਅੰਤ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਕਉਣੁ ਜਾਣੈ ਗੁਣ ਤੇਰੇ ॥
ਗਾਵਤੇ ਉਧਰਹਿ ਸੁਣਤੇ ਉਧਰਹਿ ਬਿਨਸਹਿ ਪਾਪ ਘਨੇਰੇ ॥
ਪਸੂ ਪਰੇਤ ਮੁਗਧ ਕਉ ਤਾਰੇ ਪਾਹਨ ਪਾਰਿ ਉਤਾਰੈ ॥ (SGGS: 802)


Mai Man Thaeree Ttaek Maerae Piaarae Mai Man Thaeree Ttaek ||
Avar Siaanapaa Birathheeaa Piaarae Raakhan Ko Thum Eaek ||1|| Rehaao ||

Ooch Apaar Baeanth Suaamee Koun Jaanai Gun Thaerae ||
Gaavathae Oudhharehi Sunathae Oudhharehi Binasehi Paap Ghanaerae ||
Pasoo Paraeth Mugadhh Ko Thaarae Paahan Paar Outhaarai ||

This is a long shabad. I’ve skipped the initial part of the shabad and highlighted the ‘rahao’ stanza as it is the first stanza of the shabad which acts as the central idea behind the whole shabad and I’ve highlighted one of the shabad lines in red where it says “pasoo preth mugd ……” where English translations have gone wrong and depicted the Hindu or Christian version of “preth” meaning ghosts or demons.

Translations in most apps….

“You save the beasts, demons and fools, and even stones are carried across.”

Above is the English translation taken from a famous desktop application called “SGDV 2.5” (Search Gurbani Desktop Version). The English translations were done by a Dr. Sant Singh Khalsa.

First off, lets get one thing straight.

Gurbani was not created for any other beast, demons or fools. It was created for mankind, for us humans.

When Guru Arjan Dev Ji mentions “pasoo” (animals), “paraeth”  (demons/ghosts) and “mugadhh” (fools), what does he actually mean? In my opinion, the shabad line is reflecting our (human beings) state of mind (birti). NOT that we should make our pets listen to Gurbani or that ghosts or demons, listening to Gurbani can also be carried across.

Here’s what the above stanza actually means,

“when we as humans forget our human values, when we forget what it truly means to be human, we are constantly deluded in doubt and our state of mind and actions are mimicking of an animal (pasoo), demon (paraeth) and foolish person (muggadh). When one is in this state, it is difficult, or close to impossible for one to make the right decisions and act virtuously.”

Then why does Gurbani say, even a ‘muggadh’ (fool) can be saved?

I’m in the opinion that Guru Sahib is giving us hope that IF we were to accept the flaws within ourselves and IF we are prepared to make a change for the better, then no matter how lowly our thoughts, actions or lowly lifestyles are, with the help of ‘gyaan’ (Godly wisdom/ Gurus teachings/ true knowledge), one is able to convince the mind towards making a positive change. It would be difficult for anyone not to agree with this. I believe this is exactly what Guru Sahib is saying in this shabad. By listening first, then believing one is able to uplift and change their state of mind (birti) to that of good virtues – of kindness, compassion and contentment, just to name a few.

In Conclusion

Ghosts, demons and fools are basically the characteristics of a person’s lowly thinking and actions. We all have it in us. Some, to a greater degree than others. There are NO ghosts or demons that are crossing from a 3rd dimension or 4th dimension into ours. These are just stories created by mankind to keep us at bay and to create fear in us. The ghost sightings you hear happening all over the world, if studied closely, you will discover that the person who claims they’ve seen a ghost is never able to prove beyond reasonable doubt of his/her claims. If you believe in ghost so be it. But if you don’t, good for you. You’d probably never see one 🙂 Its all in what you believe.

Image by Ulrich B. from Pixabay


  • Amarjit S. Gulati

    Amarjit says, the Sikhi that is being practiced today & preached by most clergy (Gianis, Parcharaks, Kirtaniyas) is NOT aligned with Guru Nanak's teachings. As a researcher and a student of Nanakian philosophy, he attempts to share his utmost honest opinions and findings based on Gurmat and real-life experiences.

    View all posts

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